Mrs. Gillian Douglas Lead Chaplain Head of Spiritual Care NHS Grampian speaking at the Presbytery meeting 25th June 22
Mrs. Gillian Douglas, NHS Grampian’s Lead Chaplain and Head of Spiritual Care gave a talk to a meeting of the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland on Saturday 25th June 2022
She paid tribute to her predecessor Rev. Mark Rodgers….
“I was appointed Lead Chaplain and Head of Spiritual Care last August, taking over from Mark Rodgers when he retired at the end of November. When a person is in a role for a long time – almost 10 years in Mark’s case – the words ‘they will be big shoes to fill’ are often used. In my interviews in recent years, I have said, ‘I may walk in their footsteps but not fill their shoes’. I have Mark to thank for appointing me to my first chaplaincy job back in January 2014, a job which was part time and for which I was based in Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen.”
Rev. Mark Rodgers
Gillian was born in Dunfermline and has three brothers. After primary and secondary education, she had a career in the Civil Service, working in what was then the DHSS, later the Benefits Agency. She moved to the north east of Scotland in 1985 as her husband Paul took up a position with the then Gordon District Council. Following the birth of their second son and a career break, Gillian returned to work in a Special Needs School in 2001 then spent 5 years as Church Youth Worker at Kintore,. She studied Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, graduating in 2010 and after three years working in the voluntary sector, joined NHS Grampian as a Healthcare Chaplain. Gillian then moved to Royal Cornhill Hospital taking up the role of Lead Chaplain for Mental Health and Learning Disability and then to her current role as Head of Spiritual Care, based in ARI. She considers herself a lifelong learner and completed a Master’s degree – Advanced Practice in Healthcare (Healthcare Chaplaincy) – at the University of Glasgow.
As for her Faith and Church Life Gillian says,
“From an early age I remember my mum taking my brothers and I to church in Dunfermline. My brothers drifted off when other activities came about on a Sunday – or perhaps they were just bored! I too drifted off for a few years as I was a competitive swimmer and weekends were filled with training and competitions – I think they’re called ‘meets’ nowadays. However, I was drawn back to church around the age of 15 and became a member of the Church of Scotland when I was 16. I helped out in Sunday School and sung in the choir and remember my minister then, a very gentle man who had time for everyone and who I have no doubt guided and influenced me in my faith in those formative years. When we moved to Inverurie in 1985 we took time to settle into a local church but quickly became involved in the life of it. I was ordained an Elder in 1991, one of the youngest at the time and I continue to be one of the youngest on our Kirk Session today. Given the demands of my job over the past 8 years, I have been less involved in church activities but I have enjoyed being back to in person worship and meetings of the Kirk Session recently, alongside supporting things like Messy Church and our other activities in prayer”.
Gillian spoke about Chaplaincy in NHS Grampian
“Healthcare chaplaincy is a generic service across Scotland. Whilst we are always able to call on representatives from specific faith or belief groups when required, healthcare chaplains support patients, staff and many others from all faiths and none, often at some of the most difficult and stressful times in their lives. In addition to the main hospitals in Aberdeen and Dr Gray’s in Elgin, we also have a presence in many of the community hospitals and with the development of the Community Chaplaincy Listening Service, we can offer support in a number of GP practices and the Health Village here in the city. I currently manage a team of around 14 which includes healthcare chaplains, CCL Volunteer Co-ordinators and a department administrator. In addition, in normal times we have a large number of volunteers, filling roles as ward visitors, escorts at Sunday Services and volunteer listeners in the CCL service. We are very thankful to all who have volunteered their time, many from local churches, and we look forward to our volunteers returning to the hospitals in the near future.
When Covid hit in early 2020, there was no question that we, as healthcare chaplains would continue to come to work – to support the frontline staff and continue to support patients in hospital and their loved ones or other significant people in their lives who, as you will remember, were not able to visit. As some of you may know, we were written into the ‘End of Life’ protocol that was drawn up in NHS Grampian in the early weeks of the pandemic, our main role being to facilitate visitors to the Intensive Care Unit, usually to say goodbye to their loved ones – in most cases they had not been able to see them in person from when they had been admitted to hospital. Our role in these situations was a privilege and we hope made a very difficult and emotional situation bearable.”
“As Mark Rodgers has said previously, our links with the Presbytery of Aberdeen and Shetland continue to be strong and we have appreciated your prayers over the years but particularly over the past two and a bit years when life has been very different for all of us. We are also always thankful that a number of local churches continue to welcome us and host some of our special services each year as we remember those who have died or lost loved ones in hospitals in Grampian. In my role, I look forward to your continuing support and prayers and hope that my colleagues and I can support you in your pastoral work.”